At TIDE we understand that people need to make a living to support their families. So we assist local fishers to develop economic alternatives to fishing, thus placing less pressure on the natural resources we are trying to conserve.
In 1999, we founded TIDE Tours, an ecotourism business that uses local free-lance guides so that a large proportion of the revenue goes to the community (the small profit goes to our education program). Since then, TIDE Tours has trained around sixty fishers from Punta Gorda and surrounding communities in tourism services – fly-fishing, birding, hospitality and more. These guides now include some of the best fly-fishing guides in Belize – expert fishers, easy-going hosts, intimately familiar with all the best local spots. TIDE Tours also markets the Toledo District, which offers world class fly-fishing, ample opportunities for adventure, culture and back-to-nature experiences for those tourists prepared to delve a little deeper into Belize.
In 2012, with support from the USAID MAREA Program and KFW (through MAR Fund Program), TIDE introduced a new supplemental livelihood project. Seventeen fishers and their families established small-scale chicken rearing enterprises. They were supplied with coops and chicks and trained in poultry rearing and basic business planning. Participants were able to share past experiences in poultry rearing, discuss diseases and medication, identify potential markets and set prices. This project has been successful. Local, organic chicken and eggs fetch above the market price and these families are now earning an extra US$1,000 per year from this enterprise. Participants have provided US$25 each toward a revolving fund so that others can benefit from similar projects.
Rio Grande Fishing Cooperative
The same MAREA Program project enabled the Rio Grande Fishing Cooperative to add value to its marine products. The Cooperative can now produce vacuum sealed seafood products with longer shelf lives and greater value. Refurbishment of the building itself and a functional ice machine have made the Cooperative a much more attractive place to purchase seafood, enhancing business and benefitting the Cooperative members.